A customer gets ready for QR code payment at BingoBox, an unmanned store in east China's Shanghai, July 21, 2017. The 15-square meter store has no cashier, which accepts self-assisted payments by quick response (QR) codes. (Xinhua/Ding Ting)
With around 731 million Internet users, China has been the world's largest and fastest-growing e-commerce market. In 2016, online shopping in China saw a growth rate of 26.2 percent, generating 5.16 trillion yuan (767 billion dollars), according to a report on China's economic data by the National Bureau of Statistics.
Last year, Chinese people bought more food online with a growth of 28.5 percent. Clothing sales rose by 18.1 percent in the year, while items like mobile devices took up nearly 12 percent.
E-commerce now accounts for 15.5 percent of the total retail sales in the country. Thanks to lower costs and fewer licensing requirements, the bar for individual merchants to open an online shop in China has been set lower than the threshold for opening a physical retail store.
E-commerce has also injected fresh vigor and vitality into the economy of rural China in recent years. In 2016, e-commerce created more than 20 million jobs in rural villages, with over 8.1 million online business owners. Rural buyers also contributed 894 billion yuan (131 billion dollars) to China's e-commerce sales last year.
Leading operators in China's e-commerce market include JD.com, and Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao.